Occupying the Cliff Hotel in Abu Dis
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Occupying the Cliff Hotel in Abu Dis

The Occupation administration has announced that it intends to confiscate the Cliff Hotel in Abu Dis. This is the latest in a series of attempts, beginning in 1996, by the Occupation military to occupy the building and land on which it is built. The Wall surrounds the hotel, isolating it from Abu Dis in the east.

In the most recent effort, the Occupation authorities are reviving the Absentee Law so as to transfer the property to the control of the Ministry of Finance. This law was created to provide a legal veneer for the theft of Palestinian land from owners who had been expelled following the Nakba.

In order to implement this law, the Occupation authorities must claim that the owners of the property are in fact “absent.” Three owners of the hotel, who are the heirs of late Abdul Hadi Ali Ayyad, reside in Abu Dis only a few hundred meters away from the threatened land. With their West Bank IDs, the owners are considered by the Occupation administration to be residing in “enemy territory” and thus absentee owners.

This slight of hand was accomplished by the construction of the Wall in 2003 on the east side of the hotel. This effectively shifted the property to the Jerusalem municipality and isolated the area from its owners. The area has historically been the responsibility of the Bethlehem municipality.

This is not the first time Occupation forces have attempted to sequester the Cliff Hotel property. In 1996, the structure was occupied by military forces for so-called security reasons but was returned to the owners after international pressure.

In 2003, five rooms and a well were demolished to clear space for the Wall and an access road. The property was further wrecked when Occupation forces used it as both a work site and dumping ground. Now, the Wall completely surrounds the property, with a gate that allows military access. The location of the hotel land, on a high point overlooking Abu Dis, will be transformed into a surveillance and control point for the Occupation military.